With more stringent federal fuel economy standards coming, it should be no surprise that the average new-vehicle fuel economy is on the rise. Automotive News cites a study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (Go Blue!), that shows that the 24.9-mile-per-gallon average for August of 2013 is nearly five miles per gallon better than when UMTRI started keeping track in October 2007.

The methods for the study are alarmingly straight forward. To calculate the average sales-weighted fuel economy, which is what that 24.9-mpg figure represents for August 2013, researchers merely calculated the monthly sales for each individual model line and the combined EPA fuel economy listed in the EPA Fuel Economy Guide. If there were multiple fuel economy figures for a model, like, say a Ford F-150, researchers used the average of the combined EPA ratings. Low-volume exotics and luxury car manufacturers, like Rolls-Royce or Ferrari, had sales and fuel economy for their entire model range calculated to come up with one number.

Both UofM researchers that conducted the study, Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle, claim that data indicates that the average should only climb, and that it's very likely that the next model year will be even better than the previous. Interestingly, one of the biggest jumps in the study has been the 1.2-mpg jump, from model year 2012 to MY2013.


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  • 47 Comments
      RomanM
      • 1 Year Ago
      A friend of mine bought a Prius recently for his wife who commutes 36miles one way. She used to have an suv, he is so freaking happy, says she basically pays 1/3 of what she used to for gas, saving over 200 monthly.
        Scott R
        • 1 Year Ago
        @RomanM
        @rolanie3 I've gotten much better than 32MPG with my Volt, I probably average 37-40MPG but if it's flat terrain and you drive pretty conservative you can get better. And I typically get 40-42 miles on a charge. But it takes Premium gas, so that has to factor into the equation. BTW, my employer has plenty of 220 and 110V charging options, I've driven several thousand miles without gas this year.
        Max
        • 1 Year Ago
        @RomanM
        I bought a used 2007 Rx400h for my wife to replace her 94 Integra LS. Surprisingly, the Lexus gets 3 MPG more than the Acura, though her Integra always ran rich. I'm happy, she's happy, and the college student we gave the car to is happy. Though my 01 Golf TDI gets double the fuel economy of her old Acura.
      Michael
      • 1 Year Ago
      At our fuel prices, ~25MPG isn't all that surprising. The volume of F-150s and Silverados with their combined averages sold over the last decade contribute a lot to this low number.
      Ziv
      • 1 Year Ago
      Here is a pretty good summary article regarding the Energy Security and Independence Act. It was passed in 2007 with bipartisan support that increased the CAFE standards. It passed 86-8 in the Senate. http://www.vnf.com/news-alerts-231.html
        Marco Polo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ziv
        @ Ziv Thank you for the link. It is indeed a pretty good summary of the Energy Security and Independence Act. Thankfully, it's companion bill the America's Climate Security Act of 2007(Lieberman-Warner bill) was killed in the US Senate a year later. In part the ESI Act has proved successful in reducing fossil fuel consumption in the US. However, the complexity of this act and the vast wastage of public money that's occurred, highlights the difficulties governments face when confronted with attempting large scale social and economic engineering, based on circumstances and considerations, that may not exist, or are based on little understood science and predictions, that may never occur, or dramatically alter in the future. To be fair, Governments find themselves in a difficult position. Do nothing, and be accused of negligence, or act, and create a vast counter-productive quagmire of economic waste, debt and vested interest that burdens future generations. It's true that the Energy Security and Independence Act, was an idealistic compromise of public policy, driven by popular hysteria and has created far more harm than good. However, it's also true that the ESI was (like most wastes of public money) a very well intentioned act. The ESI created the enormous economic wastage and environmental damage wrought by the US corn-based ethanol industry. This huge, but totally inefficient, Industry is totally reliant on the EPI Act for it's existence. The US Ethanol Industry has generated massive public debt, and will prove very disruptive, and painful, to abolish. While the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) provisions of the bill, have proved more successful than the Renewable Fuels Standard provisions, in hindsight, it's easy to realize that the same objectives could have been achieved with a simpler approach. A more courageous administration, legislature and citizenry, would have simply agreed to the US government increasing the tax on gasoline, and diesel at the pump. The additional revenue could have offset incentive programs for alternate R&D programs and industry incentives. The cost would have been borne evenly across the US, removing the incentive for states like California to impose 'de facto' regulations on unwilling states. In increase in fuel taxes would have realized the objectives of the ESI in a far more flexible, and efficient manner. There would have been no need for vast bureaucracies, huge failed industries, and the massive increase the US public debt.
      Dvanos
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well that's something you don't see everyday.
      Will
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just part of No-bama's plot to destroy 'Merica!
        ferps
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Will
        I can't even tell if this is sarcasm or not
        mylexicon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Will
        Actually, an overwhelming majority of Americans supported the new CAFE 2025 initiative, and he brought Republicans onboard by pushing fracking through the EPA, which has helped decrease consumptive oil imports in the US. Think of the president No-bama could have been if he spent more time building consensus, and brokering productive compromises, rather than pushing the rest of his agenda, which has had virtually no positive effect on the US.
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      That is very cool. CAFE standards working wonders here.
      normc32
      • 1 Year Ago
      My turbo-4 Saabs and Buicks never see below 35 mpg with AC on. I can get below 30 mpg when doing 90+ on long trips. The bump is not that cars are more efficient but people are more aware of fuel consumption bad habits. Unnecessarily idling at the drive thru or at a three minute stop or stopped in traffic are the biggest culprits.
        tinted up
        • 1 Year Ago
        @normc32
        Pretty sure the bump is calculated using new car fuel economy, just like the title says. To put it another way what the sticker on the new car says, not what some guy is getting 3 months after purchase from his new found driving habits.
      cpmanx
      • 1 Year Ago
      To all who said it couldn't be done: It is happening, and without ruining performance or making cars insanely expensive. Some of the more impressive jumps have come through straight meticulous engineering--look at the improvements at Subaru, for instance, done without turbos or electric motors.
        rlog100
        • 1 Year Ago
        @cpmanx
        This is simply not true. Cars represent a higher percentage of a person\'s income than they took 30/40 years ago. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/cars-increasingly-reach-many-americans-145957880.html
          Polly Prissy Pants
          • 1 Year Ago
          @rlog100
          That's poor logic. People may be spending more (and maybe making less) but that doesn't mean the equivalent car really cost more. We bought a new 1982 Accord for $9995 and it had AM/FM cassette, crank windows, manual door locks, no airbags, a carb on a motor making 79 hp with a 3 speed auto, no ABS, no stability control, no nothing. It was standard for the day but you'd have a hard time selling a car that stripped today no matter how cheap. In todays dollars that $9995 is over $22,000 due to inflation. So you could either get a new Accord that is FAR superior in every single way for the same money, or get a car equivalent to that 1982 Accord and spend way, way less. If you adjust for inflation, cars are far cheaper today than they've ever been before.
          brotherkenny4
          • 1 Year Ago
          @rlog100
          The average price paid for a car is about $30K, which suggests that the higher percentage is voluntary. You can buy very good cars for half that price. People also spend a much higher percentage of their income on phones than they used to. They chose to do that, they are not forced to do that. I think people who have the financial wherewithal to buy new cars and other items are more frivolous than people were 30-40 years ago.
      Hazdaz
      • 1 Year Ago
      We can thank no one more than the government for pushing the industry into making fuel economy a bigger issue. The average fuel economy numbers for cars hadn't changed in some TWO DECADES so the increases over the last few years are simply a way to make up for long time.
        Jake
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Hazdaz
        Or rising oil prices.
          Ryan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jake
          If only we could get some additional gas tax passed... It is still like 18 cents a gallon for state and 18 for federal. The anti-tax guys should be buying EVs instead of 12mpg trucks to commute to the store in.
      delsolo1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Maybe this trend means American should increase subsidies to big oil corporations
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      jebibudala
      • 1 Year Ago
      Bush's fault. Seriously. CAFE 2015 happened under his watch.
        rlog100
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jebibudala
        The consequences of those standards haven\'t hit cars yet. A Cruze will be the new midsize car.
          JSH
          • 1 Year Ago
          @rlog100
          A Chevy Cruze IS a midsize car. With an interior volume of 94 cubic feet Passenger volume + 16 cubic feet luggage volume = 110 cubic feet. The EPA mid-size class is 110 - 119 cubic feet. Automakers have consistently made cars bigger and bigger with every redesign. The VW Jetta is an excellent example of the trend. When it was first introduced is was a subcompact with an interior volume of 90 cubic meet. In 2013 it had jumped two class to midsize with an interior volume of 110 cubic feet.
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